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March 2011
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May 2011

April 2011

Bark in the park: Collaborative efforts give dogs room to roam downtown

Man’s best friends will soon have a new local spot for taking in fresh air and stretching their legs. 

The Cleveland-Holloway Neighborhood Association and the Durham Parks and Recreation Department have formed a novel partnership that will result in the opening of downtown’s first play space intended especially for canines. The Downtown Durham Dog Park will be located on vacant city-owned land at North Roxboro and Elliott streets. 

The site is west of Queen Street, north of the Scarborough Nursery School and across Roxboro from First Baptist Church. A community cleanup day has been scheduled for the morning of April 23; the park should open to the public by early May. 

Dragana Lassiter, 30, is pursuing a doctorate in cultural anthropology at UNC Chapel Hill. For nearly two years, she’s lived in Cleveland-Holloway with Asa, a mixed-breed male dog. 

“I think it will benefit not just Cleveland-Holloway but the whole downtown community,” Lassiter said of the new recreation space that she helped create along with a team from the neighborhood association. “Obviously we don’t have a dog park, and many people have dogs, and many people don’t have back yards.” 

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Where's BCR off to these days?

Even by the less-prolific standards of blogging that 2011 has brought as I've been helping a parent through some health issues, the last week at BCR has been, well, crickets, save for a nice contribution by Matthew Milliken.  I've had some nice emails from friends and readers asking what's going on, so I thought I'd make a quick pitstop for an update.

In this case, it's actually (for a change this year) nothing bad at all. Darlene and I have been renovating a historic house on Gloria Ave. this past year, and that work's been wrapping up frantically in recent weeks, with painters and plaster and punchlists flying.

Since the beginning of April, we've started the long process of moving in, which has included three moving trucks; 1,800 miles of driving (don't ask); a great and professional crew from TROSA Moving; and enough contractors to make a passable version of the chorus line for the song "Solidarity" from Billy Elliott.

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Durham Public Schools demonstration project to show the potential of play

Durham will play host next week to an event meant to show the value of children’s play. 

The “recess rollout” is funded entirely by the sponsoring organization, a 15-year-old California-based nonprofit called Playworks. The group is sending “coaches” to Bethesda, Club Boulevard, E.K. Powe, Fayetteville Street and W.G. Pearson elementary schools and Maureen Joy Charter School as part of an annual drive to introduce its programs to new areas. 

The organization currently serves 100,000 students in 250 schools in which at least 50 percent of youngsters are enrolled in free or reduced-price lunch programs and intends to add another 400 schools. The group’s mission is helping students and educators gain more from school recreation, explained Beth Kimberly, Playworks’ social media manager. 

“Primarily our focus is recess, using the recess time, which can be often very chaotic and challenging,” she said. “Principals often say that they have discipline issues, safety issues and such, at recess time.” 

Playworks coaches (who are known more formally as program coordinators) address safety issues, resolve conflicts and try to get all the children involved in games and activities. 

“Oftentimes we find that students these days, they don't know some of the games we used to play on the playground, and it becomes a little bit more crazy,” Kimberly said. “So we introduce some of the four square, wall ball — some different types of games for them to get involved in.” 

The other part of the Playworks program to be demonstrated next week will involve classes going outside to work with coaches. Children are meant to learn team building, conflict resolution and other recreation-related habits in these sessions. 

“They become more aware of ways that they can play, but they also become better in their skills and more confident to play these games,” Kimberly said. 

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Abundant ideas and energy demonstrate Durham’s entrepreneurial credentials

What’s the Next Big Thing in Triangle business? 

StartUp Madness, a daylong event at American Tobacco, gave spectators a look at several intriguing possible answers Thursday. And it also suggested that even if none of the fledgling companies presented at the event actually pan out, there’s more than enough vitality in the community for something else to grab hold of the public’s attention — and its wallets. 

The event was split into two sessions, with both parts mirroring one another. But whereas the afternoon’s Tobacco Road Challenge featured three (very serious) student presenters, eight executives pitched their startups in the evening. 

The audience favorite, and winner of an intimate lunch with community business leaders, was Rippple (yes, with three Ps). It originated in Raleigh but currently has a Durham office. 

“We’re a better way to fund and support entrepreneurs,” co-founder Alex Gibson said of Rippple, which is a sort of crowd-sourced way of connecting startup businesses with funding and customers. In a nice example of bootstrapping, one of the companies that Internet users can fund through Rippple is Rippple itself. 

For those familiar with, Rippple is a similar concept applied to business. To avoid securities violations, however, would-be investors using Rippple are not compensated in cash but in goods or services. 

In other words, it’s a high-tech version of bartering that people can use to assist others, whether it’s a neighbor or someone halfway across the country. 

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